The result of the 2016 referendum deciding on the UK’s membership of the EU, has triggered unprecedented levels of debate regarding the UK’s on-going relationship with the rest of Europe. With the Brexit uncertainty continuing, the UK looks set to participate in the 2019 European Parliament elections on Thursday 23rd May 2019.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for action from MEPs with their Small Business Plan, it sets out to help the small businesses in the UK and the 23.8 million total small businesses in the EU, to grow and flourish. The Small Business Plan for Europe is a guide for all European parties and candidates.
The main purposes of the plan are to help with:
- Enhancing productivity: by creating a culture of prompt payment they hope to help the 60% of all EU businesses that are regularly paid late. For small businesses, in particular, the probability of going bankrupt increases after just six days on non-payment, which is why late payments still account for 25% of insolvencies in the EU.
- Boosting growth through international trade and access to finance: In these uncertain times, Europe should take the lead and uphold its commitment to open and fair trade. With the current world trading system under threat, it is important to promote and recognise that open trade is an essential tool to create prosperity, employment, and social development. 21% of small businesses in the UK are involved in direct exports; trade is an important driver for smaller businesses, as it enables them to diversify their markets, reach new customers, grow and to become more competitive.
- Increasing resilience against security threats and crime: The benefits of the digital economy have bought with it a wide range of risks for both small businesses and the wider economy. The biggest risk comes from the growing threat of cyber criminality. FSB research suggests that small businesses were the victims of around seven million cyber-crimes per year (in 2014 and 2015). Smaller businesses often have limited financial, technical and human resources at their disposal to tackle the issue. Whilst the EU has attempted to strengthen its cybersecurity framework but more needs to be done to improve the cyber resilience of smaller businesses and provide strengthened support.
- Promoting diversity, inclusion, and prosperity for all: small businesses are the heart of their communities. It is important that we provide them with regulatory, economic, and physical space and support to thrive. Small businesses are agents of social change. They provide jobs, skills, and training for those furthest from the labour market, including young people and older workers, those with disabilities and mental health conditions, and those with low levels of educational attainment. These small businesses need regulation that encourages, and does not hinder, this behavior.
FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “With increasing global competition, rapid technological change, chronic productivity problems, and rising costs, small firms are facing some of the toughest business conditions they have ever faced.”
“Small businesses across Europe, not just in the UK, need support to better deal with these challenges. It is up to MEPs and policymakers to create the best possible conditions to allow our small firms to continue creating jobs, unlocking growth and driving innovation that benefits everyone.”
“Our small business plan for Europe offers a roadmap to delivering this and we hope that MEPs from across Europe back it.”
FSB’s ‘Small Business Plan for Europe’ is published here.
To find out more about the business support services Exemplas delivers, which help small businesses overcome the issues outlined in the ‘Small Business Plan for Europe’, visit here.